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Can Natural Gas Keep Erdogan In Power?

Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit the jackpot with a recent natural gas discovery in the Black Sea. Now he is offering up free gas in the biggest vote-buying scheme of the century. Losing ground in the polls due to corruption and mismanagement of a disastrous earthquake in February, the incumbent president needs all the help he can get ahead of the general elections on May 14th. 

Free gas is a pretty good start. If it were gasoline and we were in America, any candidate with the ability to offer it would be an instant shoo-in. The pump trumps politics, even in a wildly polarized society. In this case, however, we’re talking about natural gas, and hundreds of thousands of people don’t even have homes right now to heat with it.

Still, the discovery–and the rapid pace with which it has all seemed to come together–was well-timed. The Sakarya gas field is estimated to hold around 710 billion cubic meters of gas. It’s a big deal for a country that has been almost fully dependent on foreign oil and gas, including Russian and Iranian.

Turkey made its first delivery of natural gas from the new Black Sea reserve on Thursday, with Erdogan hosting a ceremony with all the fanfare on the occasion, promising free gas (more precisely, 25 cubic meters of gas per month for the span of a year to Turkish households).

Will it be enough for Erdogan to win in just over three weeks? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess…





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